I wrote this letter 2 years ago today. It had been 2 months since I had been discharged from an Eating Disorders Day Hospital program, and it would be 1 month until I began the program for a second time. I wrote this to my future self in Day Hospital, so whenever I started romanticizing my eating disorder (which I do a lot), I would be reminded that it was hell. I still pull this letter out sometimes, when I start looking back with nostalgia on my life with an active eating disorder. I am proud to say that, 2 years later, I consider myself recovered from Anorexia, and I have no plans of going back.
This post isn’t going to be about mental illness. Unless you view homosexuality as such, in which case you can go fuck yourself after first reading this. (I’ll take any views I can get)
But anyways, this is going to be a gay post. Because I suppose I am that. And somehow, I managed to live 21 years before figuring that out. This fact makes me fear that others will not believe me. It even causes me to occasionally not believe myself. Thus, I spend a lot of time reflecting on those 21 years, and how I missed something so important while living them. And the story I uncover is one I would like to share, if only for confirmation that my experience is valid. This story ended up getting long pretty quickly, so I have split it into 2 parts.
To avoid Rachel Maddowing you further with an infinite preamble, I will now begin the story about the time I thought I was straight for 21 years.
Chapter 1: Grade 7
The first time I remember considering my sexuality was grade 7. I thought I might be developing crushes on some of my female friends, and I was terrified. I was a Christian at the time, and believed homosexuality was a sin. I hated myself for even questioning my sexuality, and prayed every single day that I was indeed straight. I ruminated on the issue for what felt like months (but I was 12, so it may have been a week and a half), and then one day I definitively decided that I was straight and that I would not question that fact ever again. I thought that if I spent more time wondering whether I liked girls, the devil would somehow get into my thoughts and make it true. I don’t know how much of this ridiculous belief came from religion and how much from OCD-related superstition, but it was there, regardless. I forced the question out of my consciousness, and carried on with my wonderful, straight life.
Chapter 2: The Boyfriend Years
I have had a total of 3 relationships and one depression-induced hookup situation. You will soon learn that depression was a recurring theme during the boyfriend years.
My first relationship with a man was actually the best. I was 16, all of my friends were in relationships, and my best friend was a guy. Part of me always knew I wasn’t attracted to Liam romantically, but I had methods for dealing with this pesky fact. Sometimes, I told myself that this was a good opportunity to gain experience being in a relationship. I told myself that all high school relationships felt this way. But mostly, I shoved the inconvenient thoughts deep inside my mind, where they would resurface every few months only to be shoved away again. I actually look back on my time with Liam fondly. He was really sweet, he was my best friend, and we were just a couple of dumb kids living our high school lives. I broke up with him suddenly after becoming much more religious, more social, and less bored working at Christian camp. I still feel bad about that.
In a way, Christian camp indirectly lead to my second relationship. I decided to stop taking my antidepressants (which I had started taking the previous Spring), because I needed to “trust God to help with my anxiety and depression.” To be clear, this wasn’t a message communicated by the Christian camp, I just have a way of taking things way too far. So I was depressed, and anxious, and lonely. And a guy in my history class started giving me attention. Conor and I were together for around 8 months, during which time we repeatedly broke up and got back together. It wasn’t a great relationship, but I couldn’t handle being alone, so I kept returning. The relationship ended for the final time just before I began my first year of university.
The things I learned in university began giving me doubts about Christianity. These doubts compounded over time, and the answers that used to satisfy me didn’t anymore. I stopped considering myself a Christian in August 2013, leaving me with no friends, no hobbies, no identity, and no purpose for living. I developed Bulimia that Fall, and experienced my first Major Depressive Episode in the Winter. I began sleeping with some jerk from gymnastics, because he was giving me attention when I desperately needed it. That ended when he left me at a pub for having a drink because apparently he didn’t want to deal with me being drunk in his car. Ah, the memories.
I met my third and final boyfriend during this same depressive episode. I was still desperate for some kind of attention, so I began dating this person despite knowing I was not attracted to him. The relationship was awful, but it was less awful than being alone with my depression. I don’t say this person’s name, because that relationship ended with a traumatic incident that left me incredibly mentally unwell and affects me in some ways to this day.
Chapter 3: Anorexia
As I mentioned earlier, I had been Bulimic since Fall 2013, but mentally I was not terribly consumed by my disorder. Bingeing and purging helped me cope, but the idea of stopping didn’t seem like the end of the world. But when the aforementioned traumatic incident took away my appetite and lead to quick weight loss, I was instantly hooked. I told myself I would not start eating more once my appetite improved, and I didn’t. I want to be clear that I do not think Anorexia is more serious than Bulimia. I am only saying that my eating disorder happened to become more restrictive and more serious at the same time. Anorexia took over my life, and I was not physically or mentally capable of feeling attraction for anybody. I had no desire to be in a relationship, as my only care in the world was losing weight. It took two stays in Day Hospital to get me on track towards recovery.
To Be Continued….
My desire to write is typically inversely correlated to my mood, turning my blog into a heap of depression. But right this second, I am feeling genuinely happy, and I want to write about it. This may be related to the fact that I should be studying, but regardless, here is happy Sarah.
I feel obligated to mention that objectively, my life hasn’t gotten much better. My roommate is out of the hospital, but our relationship is irreversibly damaged, and we have decided to live apart next year (aka May 1st). The Summer is a terrifying swirl of unknowns; I don’t know where I will live, where I will work, who I will hang out with, or whether I will enjoy my classes. So it’s an anxiety-provoking time, which conveniently follows a Wellbutrin increase (which is great for mood, not so much for anxiety). Blah blah negativity blah.
But today, right this moment, I feel happy. Maybe meditating for the past 6 days has caused me to achieve enlightenment, but I somehow doubt it.
Today is a snow day (because Canada), so I get to spend the day curled up in my apartment. If it didn’t lower my mood long-term, I would spend every day like this. Fortunately, I can enjoy this day indoors guilt-free with the certainty that I will resume my usual activities tomorrow.
I planned to go to the gym today, so I did something resembling a home workout with moderate kitten interference, because I want those gains. Then I showered and got right back into my cozy pajamas. Then I did my daily chores (feeding the cat, laying out tomorrow’s outfit, etc.) and meditated. The only thing left to accomplish today is studying for my midterm tomorrow, but I’m already feeling fairly confident about it.
So here I am, feeling clean and warm in my cozy pajamas, mindful and full of endorphins, hanging out with my cat and reading about commutative rings. Everything about this day brings me joy, which is something I haven’t felt in a while, so I want to appreciate it while it’s here.
I am facing very stressful situations later this week, and the uncertainties about the Summer will continue to cause anxiety, but right this second, I feel joy.
I don’t recognize myself and have strong urges to insert a bitter, cynical comment. But the things that make me cynical and bitter will still be around when this joy passes, so right now, I’m just going to enJOY it. I’m so funny.